The Ladies Golf Union (LGU) recently ousted their CEO Shona Malcolm and it has been announced today in a joint statement by the LGU and R&A that the two organisations are in discussion about a possible merger.
Below is an article that appears in the March/April issue of Women & Golf magazine that suggests it might be the time for the R&A to take the LGU under its wing.
By Lewine Mair
It would be a sorry state of affairs if we were to end up losing the Ladies Golf Union (LGU) as a result of the recent ousting of the Union’s CEO, Shona Malcolm. Fair enough, if that is what people want, but at the moment all we see is a handful of malcontents doing what they have done before in getting rid of one more CEO who is too competent for comfort. (Interestingly, Trish Wilson, the LGU Chairman, indicated that she was saddened to see Malcolm go and that she had been happy withher good offices on behalf of the LGU.)
To recap on events, members of the LGU’s Board voted 4–3 in favour of calling for Malcolm’s resignation, with the anti-Malcolm brigade the volunteer representatives from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.The mere fact that Malcolm was not prepared to speak about what happened suggests that she did not go quietly.
When Malcolm started in her post seven years ago, what she said struck a chord with everyone who felt a pride in the women continuing to have their equivalent of an R&A in St Andrews. It was her vision that the Union should become “the voice of women’s golf around the world” and she could not have done more to succeed on that score.
Michael Gilyeat, the secretary at Royal Birkdale, was just one to speak highly of her attributes. Having worked withthe former CEO ahead of and during last year’s Ricoh Women’s British Open, he had no hesitation in saying the following: “Shona was very professional, very helpful and a pleasure to work with.” Gilyeat would have noticed the long hours she put in during the championship week, how she would beaver quietly away behind the scenes.
As a fully-qualified accountant, Malcolm was intent from the start onmaking sure that the LGU was as professional as it should be in an era when all organisations needed to tightentheir belts. Simultaneously, she worked to find ways of encouraging students and young married women to stay inthe game. To her, this was every bit as important as starting children off from scratch.
She needed a good all-round team who could understand the importance of all of the above but, as it would transpire, it appears that she was no different from her predecessor in the post in realising that such support was not readily forthcoming. Too many were only interested in adopting ambassadorial roles at events.
Lesley Burn, who stayed with the LGU for less than a year, spelt out loud and clear that a number of the LGU’s volunteers lacked the necessary expertise. She also made the deliciously de-mob happy comment that while the LGU ladies had brought her in to oversee a period of gentle change, the only thing they were interested in changing was her.
They saw her as a secretary rather than a leader and, as she memorably told them, “I don’t do the secretarial stuff”. With Malcolm gone and with Susan Simpson, Head of Championships, nowadays working from her home in South Africa, there is absolutely no point in the LGU signing on (and probably having to pay off) one more CEO. We can all see that.
Perhaps this is the moment for the R&A to take what is left of the LGU under its wing? The possibility has been the subject of much chat in St Andrews in the last year or so. Yet, if that is what the women are looking for, you would have to think that the transition would have worked better under Malcom.
What we need to know is what the four who sought Malcolm’s resignation are looking for out of all of this. Do they, perhaps, have it in mind to return proudly to their respective countries with the loot from the sale of the LGU property on The Scores, worth around £1.5 million? And in the case of England Golf, would their quarter of a million and more be used to create an even bigger empire than they already have?
Those who care about the prestige of the women’s game need to be aware that the LGU’s AGM is taking place in St Andrews on 21 February at 11.30am. Delegates need to stir their memberships into thinking about what is best for women’s golf and, having had the relevant discussions, they need to head north with appropriate questions at the ready.
Out of interest, I ran through the minutes of last year’s AGM in Cardiff until arriving at Item No. 9 on the agenda. The item in question was Q&A and next to it was the word “None”.